An ancient fruit whose ruby red seeds, according to Greek mythology, led to Persephone’s captivity by Hades, god of the underworld. It has been cultivated in its native Asia for millennia, and acquired iconic and religious status in many cultures. It is cited in the Koran as example of the good things God provides. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. And it is prescribed as adornment for priestly robes in the book of Exodus.
The pretty fruit has a leathery rind, coloured anywhere between mild yellow and bright crimson, while the interior is filled with clusters of glassy looking, fleshy seeds, or arils, separated by pithy, yellowish membranes.
Pomegranate pulp is tart and juicy, like a sweeter version of the cranberry. The skin encasing each aril is firm, delivering a satisfying burst. The seeds have a distinct bitterness, and tend to get stuck in the teeth.
The fruit is widely used in cooking throughout the Middle East, where the flavour is often harnessed as a juice or syrup. Pomegranate juice has long been a popular drink in Persian and Indian cuisine, and began to be widely distributed in the United States and Canada in 2002 and touted for its antioxidant properties.
Grenadine syrup, used as a cocktail mix, is actually thickened and sweetened pomegranate juice.
Eating the fruit raw can be a bit of a hassle. A simple trick to make the process a little smoother is to cut the pomegranate through the rind in several places — without cutting into the seeds — and soak the fruit in a bowl of water for five minutes. This will make it easier to break apart.
Young’s Market, 1000 McPhillips St.